Jennifer Hillier

How my book became a bestseller

Feb 10, 2022 | Newsletter, Personal, Things We Do in the Dark

(Note: This is a repost of my newsletter from January 14, 2022)


Dear Reader,

The greatest, most random thing happened to me back in early October: an Instagram influencer read Little Secrets, liked it (okay, I’m being humble, she said some amazingly nice things), and recommended the book to her followers by posting about it on her Instagram stories. Now, if you know anything about Instagram – and it’s okay if you don’t, because I know the barest minimum myself – Instagram stories are temporary posts that stay up for 24 hours, and then they disappear forever.

But with 400K+ followers, this influencer’s one IG story pushed Little Secrets into bestseller territory for the first time since it was published a year and a half before. Since then, other influencers have recommended it to their followers.


Back in 2010 when I was almost a debut author (first book acquired but not yet published), I remember writing a blog post called “Spurts of Excitement and Long Periods of Nothing.” In it, I marveled at how the writer’s life seemed to be filled with a lot of waiting around with nothing much going on. And then suddenly, BOOM, something amazing would happen.

Twelve years later, it’s still very much like that for me. Little Secrets was first released in April 2020, and didn’t become a “bestseller” until a year and half later, when something amazing happened.

And it could have easily happened to someone else.

I don’t mean to diminish the hard work I put into the book, and the efforts of my publisher to get the book into readers’ hands. But certainly, this is a lucky thing that happened, and of course I am so, so grateful.

But I’m also freaked out, because it’s just another reminder that in publishing, as hard as you might work and as much as you might want it, you can’t control a fucking thing.

The mass market paperback for Little Secrets will be coming February 2, 2022.



The older I get, the dumber I get

When I was 16, I was the smartest person I knew. Now, three decades later, I feel as dumb as rocks.

I was deluded back then, of course. Teenage arrogance combined with my absolute optimism that life would work out exactly as I wanted it to made me feel like I knew everything about everything. When I was 16, dreams and goals were the same thing. Work hard enough and it would happen.


At 16, I was an “A” student, with Big Plans. I wanted to be writer, but first I wanted to accomplish Many Important Things. But my parents separated. Four moves – and four high schools later – I scraped together just enough credits to graduate with decidedly average grades. Nearly all my friends had left the city for university life while I stayed back, working two part-time jobs while attending the local college for a year to get my grades up. Got into a local university to major in communications, which I changed to political science, and then East Asian studies, then English, then finally psychology. And after all that, I never did get my degree (which made no difference to the size of my student loan).

In between all of that, there were a dozen go-nowhere jobs, and I turned 30 feeling like a total loser. Every failure made me feel dumber and dumber. I had gotten completely off track in my pursuit to do Something Great. I had not become who I was supposed to become.

And yet. Had I stayed in the same place, graduated high school with my friends, went away to university, graduated with my four-year degree, gotten a good job, and then a better one – if my Big Plans had come to fruition – I wouldn’t be a writer. I know that in my bones. Had life worked out the way it was “supposed to,” I wouldn’t be here, finishing edits on my seventh novel, which – even if nobody else agrees – feels like my best work yet.

Writing wasn’t my backup plan (writing shouldn’t be anyone’s backup plan). At 16, writing for a living was the dream that was also the goal. And when I was busy feeling terrible about all the things that Didn’t Work Out, it happened anyway.

Turns out it’s okay to be dumb. Sometimes being smart just gets in the way of all the wonderful things you’re destined to do.



Things We Do in the Dark

My best friend Annie is Chinese, and she told me that 2022 is the Year of the Tiger. She and I are tigers, so when she told me this, I assumed this meant that 2022 was going to be a great year.

But that’s not what the horoscopes say. It apparently will not be an auspicious year for tigers in the Year of the Tiger, which is a little annoying considering I finally have a new book coming out.

If Little Secrets was my pandemic release, then Things We Do in the Dark is my pandemic write. I won’t bore you with how hard it was to write this book, because everything has been hard for everyone in this pandemic, and my little family has been so much more fortunate than others. We’ve managed to stay safe and healthy, we can pay our bills, we can afford Netflix, we’re okay.

Still, I’m proud to have finished it. And, as with every book, it was cathartic to have a safe place to channel all my dark, stabby thoughts.


Things We Do in the Dark is a brilliant new thriller from Jennifer Hillier, the award-winning author of the breakout novels Little Secrets and Jar of Hearts. Paris Peralta is suspected of killing her celebrity husband, and her long-hidden past now threatens to destroy her future.

When Paris Peralta is arrested in her own bathroom—covered in blood, holding a straight razor, her celebrity husband dead in the bathtub behind her—she knows she’ll be charged with murder. But as bad as this looks, it’s not what worries her the most. With the unwanted media attention now surrounding her, it’s only a matter of time before someone from her long hidden past recognizes her and destroys the new life she’s worked so hard to build, along with any chance of a future.

Twenty-five years earlier, Ruby Reyes, known as the Ice Queen, was convicted of a similar murder in a trial that riveted Canada in the early nineties. Reyes knows who Paris really is, and when she’s unexpectedly released from prison, she threatens to expose all of Paris’s secrets. Left with no other choice, Paris must finally confront the dark past she escaped, once and for all.

Because the only thing worse than a murder charge are two murder charges.

Things We Do in the Dark is available for pre-order now. If you were planning to buy it anyway, would you consider ordering it early? Pre-orders really do benefit an author, and you won’t get charged until the book is ready to ship.

Thank you!



Upcoming event with S.A. Cosby

I was scheduled to attend the American Booksellers Association’s Winter Institute in Cincinnati in February, but unsurprisingly, it’s been cancelled due to Omicron.

I will, however, be on Zoom with an author I admire so much and am proud to call a friend: the multi-award-winning Shawn Cosby. I’m going to be telling him all my little secrets (see what I did there?) on Thursday, January 27 at 7 pm EDT, and it’s free to register here.

And even though we’ll mostly be talking about Little Secrets, please do check out Shawn’s books Blacktop Wasteland and Razorblade Tears. Both of these stunning novels will blow your mind.

Hope to see you there!